Sunday, September 22, 2013
Book Review: SLOW GETTING UP
HARPER (HarperCollins Publishers) – @HarperCollins
AUTHOR: Nate Jackson
ISBN: 978-0-06-210802-9; hardcover (September 17, 2013)
256pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S.
Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile is a 2013 non-fiction book written by Nate Jackson. Published by Harper, Slow Getting Up is a memoir about Jackson’s time in the National Football League. This book is one of the best insider accounts about life in the NFL because it is by and about a guy who lived the NFL.
Slow Getting Up allows the reader to imagine the National Football League (NFL) without the glamorous sheen put on it by the propaganda machine from the NFL home office and its PR mavens. Jackson talks about the NFL game without the pre-game hype and hyped-up human interest stories brought to you by ESPN, CBS Sports, FOX Sports, NBC Sports, etc. Could the NFL still be compelling and captivating without the propaganda and hype? I guess that depends on who is doing the selling and storytelling.
When the game is sold by an actual NFL player – when the tale is told by a man who was in the NFL trenches – when it is all put together by a man who just happens to be a talented writer, it can beat the NFL machine and its media partners at their game. The game and tale is played and told in Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile. The author is Nate Jackson, the former NFL player with a gift for storytelling.
From 1999 to 2001, Jackson played college football at NCAA Division III school, Menlo College, where he was an All-American. In addition to setting many Menlo College records as a wide receiver, Jackson was also NCAA D-III Offensive Player of the Year (2001).
Jackson went undrafted in the 2002 NFL Draft, but he had a connection with legendary football coach, the late Bill Walsh. Jackson was signed by the San Francisco 49ers, the team Walsh guided to three Super Bowl victories. Jackson spent the duration of 2002 on the 49ers’ practice squad, but was waived after the season. Jackson was signed by the Denver Broncos and spent six seasons there (2003-2008). Cut after the 2008 season, Jackson signed with the Cleveland Browns, but was cut before the 2009 season began. Jackson signed with the Las Vegas Locomotives of a new professional football league, the UFL, but never played for the team.
Reading Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile is like seeing through a window into the NFL. The book offers so many surprising revelations. The result could be many book reviews that are filled with spoilers that could ruin the fun of reading the book.
I will say that Nate Jackson uses Slow Getting Up to open the door on the day-to-day activities and processes of an NFL team, from the perspective of a player who is not a star. So we see daily practice and training camps in all their micro-managed, anal retentive, over-thought anti-glory. Jackson depicts days-off and downtime in a new light that mixes guys’-night-out with daily tedium. Jackson even gives a glimpse of what life in the NFL Europe was like.
However, I must admit that no fan or follower of the NFL will want to miss Jackson’s recollections about his short stint with the Cleveland Browns and the Brown then coach Eric Mangini. Jackson offers more details about the absurdity that was the Man-genius in a way ESPN never did. The ten pages that cover Jackson’s stint with the Browns makes this book’s cover price of $26.99 a bargain. Plus, be shocked out how the league deals with injuries. No wonder the league is so anxious to settle that class action lawsuit over concussions and head injuries.
After reading Slow Getting Up, I believe that Nate Jackson was born to experience life and write great prose about it. He is the kind of writer who could experience war and later turn it into the story of a lifetime. I can only imagine the superb manuscript Jackson could have written if he’d played on the Los Angeles Lakers during the years Shaquille O’Neill and Kobe Bryant played together. As a Major League Baseball player, Jackson probably could have written the definitive book on the use of performance enhancing drugs in the MLB.
But at least we have Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile. Jackson may have been, in part, an end-of-the-bench player in the NFL, but Slow Getting Up belongs at the top of the pile of sports books.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux
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